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Industrial Action

Ambulance workers vote for strike action over delays to proposed pay reforms

A proposed new pay scale has not been implemented despite negotiations.

AMBULANCE WORKERS HAVE voted to go on strike over what they say is a lack of progress in implementing proposed changes to the National Ambulance Service (NAS), including revised pay scales.

Siptu-affiliated members of NAS personnel begun a ballot for strike action in a dispute with the HSE last month.

The union said the row centres around a series of proposed reforms contained in a report which recommends the introduction of new grades of staff, new job descriptions and the upskilling of existing staff.

Speaking to The Journal, Siptu organiser Peter Ray said the decision to strike was a “very, very, very last resort”.

“We have co-operated fully in relation to what’s known as the Roles and Responsibilities project … but the one thing that I’ve seen being put on the back burner all the time is the issue of pay,” Ray said.

“Essentially, the staff has been fully co-operating with the transformation agenda on the basis of trust.

“[Pay] negotiation has taken place, but it not been concluded and pay seems to be on the back burner all the time.”

Last year, The Journal reported that ambulance workers feel “taken for granted” with staffing levels and workloads causing burnout and leading to some leaving the sector.

Representatives have said staff numbers should at least double to tackle the current issues facing ambulance workers.

Working conditions were said to be a major issue, with staff sometimes working 17- or 18-hour shifts.

Ray added: “We have taken a very, very, very, very responsible line in relation to this for a long long period of time,” but he said Siptu members felt they had exhausted all other options “to compel the government to listen.”

Healthcare workers have reported high levels of stress and burnout across the board during the pandemic.

The Journal this week reported that there is “no appetite” for strike action among nurses and midwives, but members of their representative body feel there is no other way to resolve long-standing issues in the sector such as staffing levels and safety.

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